Golfer Ariya wins Annika award for best performance in majors

Ariya Jutanugarn didn’t win a tournament last week but still took home a trophy. Thailand’s top golfer received the prestigious Annika Major Award last week from the Ladies Professional Golf Association for the best performance this year by a golfer in the sport’s five major tournaments.

The award is named after Annika Sorenstam, considered by many the best woman golfer in history, and one of Ariya’s heroes. The honor serves as a fitting capstone to a season in which the Thai sensation won the United States Open and tied for fourth at the ANA Inspiration and the British Women’s Open.

Her United States Open win was Ariya’s second in a major during her career, which is still in its early days. This year, she also won the Kingsmill Championship and the Ladies Scottish Open giving her a total three victories. For a time, Ariya also recaptured the world number one ranking and is gunning for a third trip the top next year.

“I feel great. I am so honored to join the list of winners because they are all big names,” Ariya said when presented with the award by Annika Sorenstam herself at the conclusion of the Evian Championship last Sunday.

Other noted players who have won the Annika Major Award include Michelle Wie (2014), Park In-Bee (2015), Lydia Ko (2016) and Ryu So-Yeon (2017).

Sorenstam, a Swedish-American, retired in 2008 with 93 tournament wins and 10 victories in major tournaments, during her professional career that began in 1992. She was elected to the Golf Hall of Fame in 2003.

“I watched Annika play when I was young,’’ Ariya said. “She is my idol. It was like ‘Look how she is doing?’ I want to follow in her footsteps. She inspires me a lot. I really want to thank her for all the great things she has done for the LPGA Tour. It’s amazing for me.”

This year, 22-year-old Ariya shared another golfing distinction with Sorenstam. When Ariya’s 24-year-old sister Moriya Jutanugarn won the Los Angeles Open tournament in April they became just the second pair of sisters to win tournaments on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour. Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam had previously accomplished the feat in 2000.